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of the range for towns in England and Wales for dwellings containing the same number of rooms.
The retail prices of food, obtained by weighting the ascertained predominant prices according to the consumption shown by the British budgets, show, when allowance is made for the increase which took place in this country between October, 1905, and February, 1909, a ratio of 138 to 100 for the United States and England and Wales, respectively
One peculiarity shown by the budgets is the comparatively small consumption of baker's bread in the average American working-class family, the consumption being 81 pounds weekly per family as against 22 pounds in the United Kingdom, the place of bread being taken in the United States to some extent by rolls, cakes, biscuits, etc., on which the expenditure is about three times as great as that shown in the average British budget. On the other hand, the consumption of meat is much larger in the United States, and the consumption of vegetables is also larger. The budgets indicate, in general, that the dietary of American working-class families is more liberal and more varieď than that of corresponding families in the United Kingdom.
Comparison of wages, hours of labor, rents, and prices in the areas of investigation in the two countries has been made on the assumption that an English workman with an average family maintained under American conditions the standard of consumption as regards food to which he had been accustomed. Under such conditions the workman's wages would be higher in the United States by about 130 per cent, with slightly shorter hours, while on the other hand his expenditure on food and rent would be higher by about 52 per cent.
It is evident then, that even when allowance has been made for the increased expenditure on food and rent a much greater margin is available in the United States than in England and Wales. In the words of the British report
The margin .(over expenditure for rent and food) is clearly large, making possible a command of the necessaries and conveniences and minor luxuries of life that is both nominally and really greater than that enjoyed by the corresponding class in this country, although the effective margin is itself, in practice, curtailed by a scale of expenditure to some extent necessarily and to some extent voluntarily adopted in accordance with a different and a higher standard of material comfort.
REPORTS OF BRITISH BOARD OF TRADE ON COST OF LIVING
IN ENGLAND AND WALES, GERMANY, FRANCE, BELGIUM, AND THE UNITED STATES.
The report recently issued by the British Board of Trade on Cost of Living in American Towns, which is summarized somewhat in detail in an earlier part of this Bulletin, is the fifth of a series of uniform studies by the Board of Trade into the subject of the conditions of living of the wage-earning population in the more important industrial towns of various countries, and particularly into the wages and hours of labor, rents and housing conditions, retail prices of food, and the expenditure for food of the families of wage earners. The first of these reports related to Great Britain and covered 77 towns in England and Wales, 11 in Scotland, and 6 in Ireland, or 94 in all. The data presented were for October, 1905. The second relating to Germany covered 33 industrial towns in that country, the data presented being for March and April, 1908. The third report relating to France covered 30 industrial towns in that country and presented conditions for August to October, 1907. The fourth report relating to Belgium covered 15 industrial towns in that country, the data being for June, 1908. The main object of these foreign inquiries has been stated to be in all cases identical, namely, to obtain a collection of data comparable with those presented in the first report relating to cost of living in the United Kingdom.
The methods adopted in the several investigations, including the collection of the statistical material in regard to wages and hours of labor, rents, prices, and family expenditure for food, were the same so far as possible. The important difference in the date to which the statistical data relate was deemed necessary owing to the lapse of time between the beginning of the investigation in Great Britain in 1905 and its completion in the United States in 1909. Supplementary inquiries were made in connection with each of the foreign studies for the purpose of making the adjustments necessary in order to ascertain approximately the differences in the results which were due to the different dates of the investigation in the various countries. With
1 See Bulletin of the Bureau of Labor No. 77, July, 1905, pp. 336-354; Bulletin No. 78, September, 1908, pp. 523-548; Bulletin No. 83, July, 1909, pp. 68-87; and Bulletin No. 87, March, 1910, pp. 608-625.
this information the reports of the Board of Trade present international comparisons of conditions in each foreign country and in England and Wales at corresponding dates.
In planning the scope and method of these investigations, it is carefully pointed out in the various reports, the main purpose was to secure the basis of international comparisons between England and Wales and the various foreign countries, and, secondly, to make comparisons between the various sections of the several countries. This purpose, as the report makes clear, made necessary certain limitations in its scope and method. This applied especially in the selection of industries and occupations for which comparable data in regard to wages and hours of labor could be secured.
Thus far the British Board of Trade has not brought together into a single report the comparisons between England and Wales and the four foreign countries studied by their investigators, but inasmuch as the same figures for England and Wales have been used as the basis of comparison in each of the volumes relating to the foreign studies, it seems proper to bring the results which have been published in the five reports into a single comparison. This has been done briefly in the tables presented in the following pages. The fact should not be overlooked, however, that for a full understanding of these comparisons reference should be made to the original reports. Inasmuch as international comparisons of rates of wages, retail prices of food, rents, and details of family cost of living are extremely complex, a definite conclusion should not be drawn without a careful study of the details involved. The figures which are included in the following comparative tables are in all cases, except as may be noted, from the reports of the British Board of Trade.
The scope of the investigations which form the basis of the five reports of the Board of Trade is indicated in the following table. The table contains no reference to the wage data collected. For some of the cities much wage information was included in the report, covering a wide range of occupations. The international comparisons, however, were limited to cover in the building trades bricklayers, stonemasons, carpenters, joiners, plasterers, plumbers, painters, and hod carriers and bricklayers' laborers; in the engineering trades (foundries and machine shops) there were included fitters, turners, smiths, pattern makers, and laborers; the printing trades were represented by hand compositors on job work.
SUMMARY OF DATA COLLECTED IN EACH COUNTRY. (Compiled from reports of an Inquiry by the Board of Trade into Working Class Rents, Housing and Retail
Prices, together with Rates of W'ages in certain occupations in the Principal Industrial Towns of the United Kingdom, 1908; Germany, 1908; France, 1909; Belgium, 1910; United States, 1911.)
1 The report also covered towns in Scotland and Ireland, but in the international comparisons only data for England and Wales were used.
2 Not reported.
Counting, for statistical purposes, the “Twin Cities," Minneapolis and St. Paul, as one town.
The cities chosen for the investigation in each of the countries differed greatly in size, ranging in England from London, with four million and a half inhabitants, to Normanton, with only 12,000; in Germany from Berlin, with over two million, to Oschersleben, with 13,000; in France from Paris, with two and three-quarter million, to Fougeres, with 23,500; in Belgium from Brussels, with 630,000 (in the Metropolitan area), to Paturages, with 12,000; in the United States New York, with nearly three and a half million was, of course, the greatest, and Muncie, Ind., with 24,000, was the smallest city included in the investigation.
In the consideration of all of the tables which follow, the varying dates of the investigations should be kept in mind.
RATES OF WAGES.
The predominant range of weekly wages at the dates of the several investigations in the various countries for selected occupations in the building, engineering, and printing trades is shown in the following table. It should be noted that the figures for England and Wales are exclusive of London and those of Germany are exclusive of Berlin:
PREDOMINANT RANGE OF WEEKLY WAGES IN CERTAIN OCCUPATIONS IN SPECIFIED
INDUSTRIES, BY COUNTRIES (Compiled from reports of an Inquiry by the Board of Trade into Working Class Rents, Housing and Retail
Prices, together with Rates of Wages in certain occupations in the Principal Industrial Towns of the United Kingdom, 1808; Germany, 1908; France, 1909; Belgium, 1910; United States, 1911.]
When the wages in the various countries are compared a wide range is found in every occupation. In the several reports issued by the Board of Trade not only are actual wages presented, but relative figures are also given, wages for England and Wales (exclusive of London) being taken as the basis of comparison or 100. In the following table these figures, expressive of relative weekly wages, are given: